Workers at some Chicago-area post offices are expressing concerns about COVID cases in various locations, saying they fear infections could hamper mail delivery and lead workers to come to work sick.
Mack Julian, who represents more than 3,500 letter carriers in the city, says two workers have died from COVID in the past two months. He says contact tracing is lacking at the city’s USPS facilities and the COVID cases pose challenges for the city’s Postal Service.
“There is a huge problem right now,” he said. “The problem we’re having is that the Postal Service isn’t reporting this information to us or passing it on to the employees on the workroom floor.”
Julian says the COVID cases have affected 64 post offices in the Chicago area, alleging the facilities are not being properly cleaned.
The union leader said paid leave for workers ended in September and he had heard stories of asymptomatic employees coming to work to avoid missing their paychecks.
“A lot of them are vaccinated – they can be asymptomatic – come to work to be paid and make other carriers sick,” Julian said.
A postman says she was diagnosed with COVID after working at the Wicker Park facility, and says routes are being affected by new cases.
“There are times when we’re on more than 20 routes, and that’s because the carriers aren’t there because we’re sick,” she said.
While the USPS says it cannot comment on COVID cases for privacy reasons, they said in a statement that the organization had “resources in place” to meet service needs.
“What can be shared at this point is that the Postal Service has a dedicated COVID order response leadership team that focuses on employee and customer safety in conjunction with operational and business continuity. during this unprecedented epidemic, “the statement said in part.
USPS officials said improved cleaning procedures remain in place and all employees are required to wear face covers when social distancing cannot be observed.
Additional ventilation is also provided at all facilities, the statement said.
Julian says more needs to be done to protect workers.
“Unless they do something, we’re going to have more deaths and customers not getting their mail because there won’t be enough letter carriers to deliver the mail,” he said.
The union has called for additional workers to be stationed in the Chicago area and that it wants administrative leave reinstated for workers on a case-by-case basis.